Thomas Rondeau was awarded one of two Council of Graduate Schools (CGS)/UMI Distinguished Dissertation Awards at the 48th annual conference of the CGS held in Washington D.C.

According to the CGS, this is the nation's most prestigious honor for doctoral dissertations.

Rondeau received his Ph.D. in 2007 from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering. The title of his dissertation is “Application of Artificial Intelligence to Wireless Communications”.

“The exciting thing about each year’s body of doctoral work is that it represents the leading edge of academic scholarship across disciplines,” said Austin McLean, ProQuest director of publishing. “The fact that research in two very different fields applies concepts of artificial intelligence shows how relevant doctoral work is to our society,” he said.

“We were quite pleased to learn that Tom’s dissertation was selected for the 2008 CGS/UMI Distinguished Dissertation in Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Engineering Award. The award provides significant recognition for the outstanding quality of the research conducted by Virginia Tech graduate students and Tom is most deserving," says Karen P. DePauw, Ph.D.,vice president and dean for graduate education at Virginia Tech.

“Few graduate students have had as much influence on a field of research as has Tom. While an undergraduate, he originated a key idea that made cognitive radio possible,” said Charles W. Bostian, Ph.D., distinguished professor of engineering at Virginia Tech, and Rondeau’s academic advisor.

According to Bostian, a cognitive radio is an intelligent radio transceiver that is aware of its environment, its own capabilities, users’ needs and priorities, and the legal regulations governing its operation.

“This award not only validates the research on cognitive radio, it also validates the process of the research,” said Rondeau. “It was important to take an interdisciplinary research approach which allowed for a seamless integration of several disciplines,” he said.

According to Rondeau, the next 5 to 10 years will see an implementation of cognitive radio in a broad range of communication products, like those used by emergency responders.

The awards recognize recent doctoral recipients who already made unusually significant and original contributions to their fields. ProQuest, the world’s premier dissertation publisher, sponsors the awards and an independent committee from the CGS selects the winners. Recipients receive a certificate, a $2,000 honorarium, and travel to the awards ceremony.

Rondeau’s research was partially funded by a National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) award. Virginia Tech is one of a few universities in the United States to receive four of these awards, states DePauw.

The Council of Graduate Schools is an organization of more than 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada engaged in graduate education, research, and the preparation of candidates for advanced degrees. The Distinguished Alumni Award is jointly sponsored by the Council of Graduate Schools and UMI Dissertation Proquest Publishing.

This award is made annually to individuals who have completed dissertations representing original work that makes an unusually significant contribution to the discipline.

“This year 51 dissertations were nominated and the competition was difficult,” said Brian Mihalik, Ph.D., associate dean of The Graduate School at Virginia Tech. “The award has been in place since 1982, and this is the first time that a Ph.D. graduate from any Virginia university has won,” he said.

Rondeau received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering with a minor in literature from Virginia Tech as well as his master of science, and Ph.D. He is the son of Jo and Mike Rondeau of Lynchburg, Va. Rondeau is employed at the Center for Communications Research in Princeton, N.J.

The other CGS/UMI Distinguished Dissertation Award winner is Jessica Horst, Ph.D., of the University of Sussex.

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